Test Results of Improved Spacesuit Shielding Components 2003-01-2330
Prior studies have been performed where basic fabric lay-ups of the current Shuttle spacesuit were tested for radiation shielding capabilities. It was found that the fabric portions of the suit give far less protection from radiation than previously estimated. This is due to the porosity and non-uniformity of the fabrics and LCVG components. These findings were incorporated into the spacesuit model developed at NASA Langley Research Center to estimate exposures for mission planning and evaluation of safety during radiation field disturbance. Overall material transmission properties were also less than optimal. In order to evaluate the radiation protection characteristics of some proposed new spacesuit materials, fifteen test target combinations of current baseline and new proposed spacesuit materials were exposed to a low-energy proton beam at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Each target combination contained all of the necessary spacesuit layers, i.e. TMG, restraint/bladder, or HUT fiberglass, and LCVG. Some of these target combinations accurately modeled the current Shuttle spacesuit, in others; new materials were substituted for one or more layers of the target combination. This study starts a search for materials that may offer improved radiation protection in future spacesuit construction. A guiding principle is to seek replacement materials that have a higher hydrogen content and are more uniform than those in the current spacesuit do. We will discuss herein, the experimental apparatus and methods as well as the current status of the material selection and testing process.